Across the modern developed world, there are draws of old mobile devices in peoples houses and offices that are no longer used or in fashion. In some cases they are very old devices and in others the pull of the latest model has drawn the user to the new version or the software has stopped working on the older version.

By 2024 Statsia states there will be around 17.72 billion mobile devices operating in the world. That’s a lot of devices!

I will hazard a guess here and say there will also be a very high figure around the amount that will be still sat in desk draws.

Before I get onto upcycling I need to cover two areas – Recycling and Keeping up with the Neighbours


With the many recycling programs that vendors are putting in place the number of mobiles left outside of these programs is high. Mainly due to age of the mobile and damage to the device which makes it not worth anything for a person to send their phones in (main damage being to the screen). Yes I have a couple of these from family members that I need to get recycled.

“Smartphones are made up of around 30 elements, including copper, gold and silver for wiring and lithium and cobalt in the battery” Source :https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mobile-phones-elements-periodic-table-endangered-chemicals-st-andrews-a8739921.html


There should be a bigger push to get these devices recycled to help reduce the impact on the earth and increase our sustainability. The main rewards for recycling a phone are for those that are mainly intact and hold some resale value. Once a phone has been dropped and damaged, to some its a thing that no longer holds value and therefore ends in the draw or hopefully not the bin.

There are some things that need to happen for users to help adopt this strategy:

  • Greater publicity around the value of the old phones
  • Guaranteed security of the destruction of data on the phone
  • Giving the user something back for recycling

Keeping up with the Neighbours

With new phones/models being produced each year how often do you hear things like:

  • “Oh the latest XYZ phone is out – I must get that!”
  • “Well I have a bit of damage on this phone so Ill get a new one as its coming out”
  • “We will no longer support that operating system version past dd/mm/yyyy”
  • “The cost of repair is quite high, its more economical to get a new one”
  • “Ohhh Shiny!!!”
  • “<Insert your own here>”
  • etc.etc.


Having had an android based phone for a number of years, I have been keeping an eye on what Samsung have been proposing since 2017 – Galaxy upcycling. However I haven’t heard much until recently with Samsung announcing the use of old mobiles being used with SmartThings Labs.

Reusing my old mobile devices as part of my home automation system to provide a number of screens and control points around the house appeals to me as I’m sure it would for lots of other people.

Rather than phasing out devices with operating systems that no longer work, having an option to reuse the device with a different operating system (changed) so it can operate as part of a home automation system would have massive appeal to the market and help drive the sustainability agenda. Okay, reduce the functionality of the phone to help secure it, but lets keep these devices useful with some code.

Okay so my screen may have a crack in it, but a screen protector over that and put into a cradle on the wall suits me fine.

So whats next? Dig out my old device, put some power in it and see what I can do with Home Automation.